JIS News

The benefit of embracing healthy lifestyle was the focus of a community meeting sponsored by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) (Port Antonio Office) in collaboration with the Portland HeaLth Department, in Boston, Portland on Thursday (March 12).
The meeting focused on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, bad eating habits and the lack of exercise, three of the major factors posing health risks to Jamaicans. Community members were provided with the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about their HIV status through testing, which was carried out by representatives of the Portland Health Department.
Addressing the meeting , Peer Counsellor at the Portland Health Department, Laurel Morris, said that a total of 71 million people, worldwide, have been infected with HIV/AIDS since the disease was first diagnosed in 1982.
She said that 42 million persons are currently living with the disease, while 29 million have died so far. She added that 45 million new cases are expected to be diagnosed by 2010.
Noting that the Caribbean has the second highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world, she said that rate was the highest in the Americas and is the leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 44 years.
She pointed out that there are an estimated 28,000 Jamaicans living with the disease and 8,097 reported cases in the country since the start of the epidemic.
She also asserted that an average of 13 Jamaicans per week died of AIDS in 2002, while approximately 5,000 children, under the age of 15, have been orphaned by the disease.
Declaring that there were numerous social factors driving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica, Miss Morris said they included poverty, ignorance, cultural practices, sexual practices, gender inequalities and prostitution/sex work. She said those at high risk of contracting the disease included persons who have multiple sex partners, sexual intercourse without the use of a condom and who share IV drug needles that are not sterilized.
Speaking on poor eating habits and the lack of proper exercise by Jamaicans, Health Educator and Nutritionist at the Portland Health Department, Claudia Panton, emphasised the importance of including lean meat, dry beans and peas as sources of protein in daily diet.
She exhorted the audience to limit their intake of butter, margarine, shortening and oil, and urged them to become involved in daily exercise routines in order to lead healthier lives.
Stressing that exercise promotes relaxation, reduces stress and increases energy, she also urged the audience to avoid the excessive use of sugar and eat more of the foods which are good sources of fibre and starch.

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